a new government takes power in greece, and weeks of uncertainty. greeks have spent the past two months in a political limbo. a conservative-led government has stepped in to fill the vacuum. three pro-austerity parties agreed to work together in a coalition. they're promising to negotiate softer terms for a european union bailout. the head of the new democracy party negotiated the deal. antonis samaras was sworn in as the prime minister. new democracy won the most votes
in parliamentary elections on sunday. but it fell short of the majority. it forced samaras into talks with other party leaders. the socialist pasok party, and left party will join the coalition. the deal is expected to calm the political uncertainty that prevailed since last month. they demanded budget cuts in exchange for billions of dollars in aid. all the parties in the coalition favor keeping the country in the eurozone. but they've also pledged to renegotiate the terms of the bailout. investors took a breather there worrying about greece to focus on what u.s. central bankers had to say. we're joined now from the business desk. so, did investors get ha they wanted? >> yes, and no, catherine. no, in that they didn't get any quantitative easing. yes, in that the fed didn't rule it out as a future strategy. so what did the fed announce? the u.s. federal reserve has decided to extend its current
monetary easing policy. the move does come as economic signals are becoming darker. the central bank released a statement on wednesday, following its two-day federal open market committee meeting. >> incoming information suggests that the economy continues to expand at a moderate pace in the face of headwinds generated by the situation in europe. >> the statement warns that tension in financial markets around the globe triggered by the european debt crisis continues to post significant risks to the u.s. economy. it also acknowledges that growth in employment has pulled back in recent months. and consumer spending is rising more slowly. now, in efforts to further lower long-term interest rates, the fed says it will extend the operation twist program by six months to the end of this year. under this program, the central bank buys and sells different types of government bonds to keep interest rates low. the fed plans to sell three-year
treasury bills, and buy long-term treasury bonds that mature in six to 30 years. it says it will shift a total of $260 billion by the end of this year. bernanke said the fed is ready to take additional actions if the job situation does not show a steady improvement. for analysis of the fed's latest decision we spoke to michael gaspin, senior u.s. economist at barclays capital. >> our interpretation of what the fed did today was just to continue its existing policy. we don't think that this policy will have much of an immediate impact on the growth outlook in the u.s. or the world economy. but it is a way for the fed to signal to markets that should europe continue to weaken further, or if policymakers in the u.s. do not address the so-called fiscal cliff, which is set to tighten policy in the early part of next year, that the fed is prepared and stands
ready to do more. so we see it more of a signaling effect on what the next reaction from the fed may be, and in that regard, it's something that we think will give markets confidence and at least more ability for the u.s. to withstand some of the adverse movements in global financial markets. >> that was michael gapen, senior u.s. economist at barclays capital. after the federal reserve decided to extend the so-called operation twist, but not implement qe-3, the dow jones industrial average ended lower. it fell 0.1% on the day to 12,824. now, to see how things are treating here in japan, we'll go to meleguard at the stock exchange. some hopes for the august meeting. >> yes, indeed. and as you said there, the fed possibly holding back on its main policy measures, until that
august meeting. but the -- as you mentioned there, it did extend its policy, or one of its measures of selling short-term securities to buy longer ones, often known as operation twist as edefined there. but it didn't really take any extra aggressive easing measures on the whole. and that disappointed markets somewhat. so let's look how the nikkei is popping off this thursday morning here in japan. and both indexes trading higher. 8,805 for the nikkei, 752 for the topix. the moves were a little bit light as market players were waiting for the fed meeting. but now that's out of the way, the next focus is really on how eu leaders are going to come up with any plans to enhance eurozone rescue funds. and also, how it's going to be dealing to ease some of the pressure off the austerity plan that is pegged for greece.
especially now that the pro-austerity coalition government just took power on wednesday. so that's the next focus, really, for a lot of the market players. now, the euro and the dollar had a little bit of a volatile trade ahead of the fed meeting. and we did see some particular moves for the dollar, gaining a little bit, then easing back off. let's have a look at the exact currency levels for this thursday morning here in japan. the dollar actually rose against the yen on hopes for a monetary easing from the fed. but the upward trend eased off a touch later, wednesday in new york, as the extent of the measures were made pretty clear. the euro, however, has gained. and is holding its ground now at the upper 100 yen levels. let's not forget it was trading at the upper 99 to 100 yen levels just in the last couple of details. now, a proposal by italy for europe's rescue funds, to buy weaker eurozone sovereign debt is on the table.
however, it needs germany's approval. that will be a big focus for currency markets, and of course, how that relates to the stock markets as well. but coming up later today, eurozone finance ministers are going to be meeting in luxembourg, and apparently they'll be talking about unifying the oversight of the financial sector, a topic covered at the g-20 meeting in mexico. still a lot of focus there op the eurozone as we move forward. the nikkei and topix higher this morning. >> ramin, thank you for that update, from the tokyo stock exchange. now, i'll leave you with a check on other stock markets open in asia at this hour.
world leaders from about 120 countries are in brazil trying to find a way to balance environmental conservation and economic development. the three-day u.n. conference on sustainable development known as rio plus-20 opened on wednesday at the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking earth summit in rio de janeiro. the leaders are discussing how to make the transition to a green economy, or eco-friendly economic development. the conference is split between industrialized and developing nations. poorer countries fear that the transition may restrict their economic freedom. the difficulty of bridging that gap means the final text on friday will likely contain no specific road map for the green economy. japan's diet has enacted a
law to provide compensation for accidents involving tankers transporting crude oil from iran. the move was made in response to eu sanctions, banning insurance on shipments of iranian oil. the law unanimously passed the upper house planary commission on monday. japanese shipping companies that operate oil tankers typically seek insurance policies from japanese or european insurers for coverage in the case of oil spills or other serious accidents. but concerns have been growing about japan's oil imports from iran, after the european union announced a ban on tanker insurance starting july 1st. the government plans to put the law into force next wednesday ahead of the start of the eu sanctions. representatives of japan, the u.s. and the eu have filed a complaint about china with the
world trade organization. they say the country has been unfairly restricting exports of rare earth metals which are used in many electrical goods. but chinese officials say they're just trying to preserve their supply. a report by china's government says its rare earth exports accounted for 90% of global output last year. it also says growing demand for the metals has led to environmental destruction in china, and a depletion of supplies in some regions. the report defends the country's stance on exports for a protection of scarce resources. japanese and u.s. officials say they're designed to push up rare earth prices. >> china probably would like to use rare earth as a strategic weapon in dealing with the western world, like japan, united states, or even europe. >> china is home to 23% of the world's known rare earth metal
deposits. people in japan's northeast are focused on overcoming the challenges of the 2011 disaster, but it won't be easy. they have to rebuild homes, businesses, entire communities. we'll show you their struggles and their successes on "the road ahead" every wednesday at 1:00 p.m. japan time here on "newsline." executives at tokyo electric power company have spent more than a year analyzing what went wrong on march 11, 2011. the day an earthquake and tsunami disabled one of their nuclear facilities. their final report into the accident at fukushima daiichi offers a different view, compared to other investigations. but it leaves some key questions unanswered. >> translator: as the company that caused the accident, we have a social obligation to carry out a thorough investigation. we must learn from the findings, and make them public.
>> tepco executives say their probe into the accident involved on-site assessments at interviews with about 600 staff members. the report says workers did everything they could to deal with unexpected events. and it argues they generally took appropriate measures. the government panel investigating the crisis in contrast blamed staff for not properly operating the emergency cooling system. tepco's version of events is critical of politicians. it says government interference made matters worse, and led to failures in dealing with the accident. it cites then prime minister naoto kan as an example. the report also says kan was constantly on the phone issuing orders and asking people for information. it says intervention didn't help. but the utility's investigation doesn't address some concerns. for one, it fails to pinpoint what caused the release of so much radioactive material.
it also doesn't detail how much damage the reactors suffered from the earthquake independent of the tsunami. the tepco report follows investigations by a government committee, a diet panel, and an independent group into how the utility and the government dealt with the crisis. but no investigation so far has looked squarely at what caused the meltdowns. that task has been left to tepco, because many parts of fukushima daiichi are still off-limits, or difficult to access because of high radiation levels. >> translator: i'm very doubtful that this report has delved into the accident in any real sense. a framework needs to be created to ensure a more independent perspective. there needs to be a more independent analysis to pinpoint the problems that need to be addressed. and to point out where changes should be made. all of japan's 50 nuclear
reactors are currently offline for regular maintenance. they have to pass new safety tests before they can go back online. the work to fire up the first unit since the fukushima accident is getting off to a rocky start. an alarm sounded on a reactor water level detector at the ohi power plant in central japan. but the operator of the facility and the safety officials waited 13 hours before informing the public. the power company spokespersons say the alarm went off in reactor 3. they say it suggested the water level had fallen in a tank used to cool a generator. workers discovered the level was about 5 centimeters lower than usual. but they found no leaks, so their investigation is ongoing. they began the process of restarting reactor 3 last weekend, soon after the prime minister gave the go-ahead to put it, along with reactor 4, back online.
noda's government has set up a special monitoring system to improve safety. inspectors are stationed at the plant to deal with accidents and other problems. the representatives say they didn't make the information about the alarm public tuesday, because the incident require disclosure by law or by in-house rules. but the nuclear and industrial safety agency official who's based at the plant, apologized, saying his lapse in judgment delayed disclosure. residents in the town of ohi, which host the plant, are criticizing the time it took to release the information. >> translator: it makes me scared about the restart. >> translator: quick action in cases like this is vital. >> the ohi reactors are expected to start generating power before the end of july. the uncertainty hanging over the middle east has left many in the asia-pacific region concerned about energy supplies.
with this in mind, members of the asia pacific economic cooperation forum are prepared to meet to address the issue. officials from the 21-member apec forum will gather in st. petersburg, russia, on sunday. as the global demand for natural gas has been increasing, the forum is expected to agree on boosting the output and trade of natural gas in the region. in the meeting, japan will also explain its position to restart a suspended nuclear power plant, the first to start operating since the accident in fukushima. it will also explain its efforts to ensure nuclear safety. the ministers will issue a st. petersburg declaration at the end of the meeting. one of japan's three big makers of nuclear reactors it turning in a big way to alternative energy. the largest-ever solar project near the fukushima daiichi that
it helped to build. the managing director signed a deal with the mayor. the city is just north of the plant. the deal means that toshiba will build power stations along the coast. construction of new houses is banned there, since last year's disaster, because the area is now a tsunami risk zone. the city plans to buy 1.5 million square meters of land, and lease it to a venture set up by toshiba. construction will start in march, and the plants will begin operating in 2014. they'll provide up to 100 megawatts of electricity, enough to meet the demands of 30,000 homes. that makes it japan's largest solar-powered project. they want to end the dependence on nuclear power and eventually switch entirely to renewable energy. >> translator: the project will be a big step fward for our
reconstruction. and it will serve as encouragement to residents. >> 15 months after last year's earthquake and tsunami, many people have yet to locate and identify the bodies of missing family members. to help people in miyagi prefecture, local police have put their sketch artists on the job. >> a man with a peaceful expression. a woman with gentle eyes. these are drawings of unidentified people killed in the disaster. police specialists drew them, trying to capture how the subjects looked when they were alive. the department of missing persons in miyagi prefecture provided the images. to make identifications, police
rely on the subject's physical characteristics, their belongings and their dna. but over 190 bodies are still unidentified in miyagi prefecture. over one year after the disaster, police say it's harder to get more information to help them identify bodies. so at the end of may, the police officers posted the likenesses on the internet. >> translator: the corpses were damaged. looking at photos of dead bodies is very difficult in families. the portraits show how the deceased looked when they were living. >> two officers who draw the portraits examine the photo. >> i take a thorough look at the face on the photo.
then i imagine that face before death. >> he considers the age of the deceased, and adds wrinkles, or draws facial muscles accordingly. repeatedly, he draws and modifies the picture. each portrait takes at least three hours to draw. >> translator: i hope the portrait helps identify people, as many as possible. >> in early june, a man from a nearby city visited the police station. he wanted to find out if one of the images is a likeness of one of his family members. he had been searching for his father-in-law. he was living with his wife and her parents. at the time of the disaster, he was away from home and survived. but his family wasn't so fortunate.
this is his father-in-law. he had already identified his missing family, except for his father-in-law. >> translator: i've viewed lots of photos of dead bodies, but i couldn't find him. it was a painful experience. >> then, on the police department's website, a portrait caught his eye. >> translator: it looked like my father-in-law. i thought, this might be him. >> the portrait resembled him before his death. he examined some of his clothing kept by the police. >> translator: i'm 100% sure it's my father-in-law's. >> he recognized the jacket instantly. it was his favorite. >> translator: what a relief to
find him at last. i went to my family's buddhist altar and reported the news to my deceased wife and her mother. >> translator: this is a difficult assignment. but when it works out, it gives me great satisfaction. >> they've made it possible to identify three people. the polic are planning to post 50 more portraits on the internet by the end of july. skies are cleared up in tokyo, after a typhoon hit. but it seems like we'll be getting some rain again today. we now have the world weather forecast. >> we're seeing dry skies across much of the tokyo area. however, we are going to get some rain from tonight. the reason is, a low pressure system which is a newly formed one and seasonal frontal line is
approaching our area. right now, a deluge of rain is pounding southern japan, as much as 170 millimeters of rain has fallen over the past 24 hours. in addition to that, up to 300 to 350 millimeters is likely mainly in southern kushu, accompanied by thunderstorms, and heavy rain will also shift it to western and central japan into friday. meanwhile, tropical storm tawan has been downgraded into a tropical depression and continues to pull away from taiwan. showers will remain across much of taiwan and southern china. this is due to ample moisture coming in from the bay of bengal. up to the north, northeastern china will continue to see ongoing thunderstorms throughout the day. as for the highs, another hot day for you across beijing. 32 degrees. 31 in seoul. tokyo, yesterday was the hottest day of this year, with a high of 30 degrees. it will be cooling down to 24.
so about a couple of degrees lower than average. all right. heading over to the americas. the main story is going to be sweltering hot conditions across the eastern seaboard. this is due to the high pressure system, and it's continuously bringing hot air from the south. the southwestern corner of the u.s. is also dealing with very hot conditions, and this is raising the risk of wildfires, particularly in the desert southwest. meanwhe, we've got ongoing thundershowers from ontario, down towards the texas panhandle. conditions are particularly severe in and around minnesota. and recent levels have reached their peaks in some locations. flood warnings will continue to be in effect across this area. but as you can see, showers will move out of this region over the next 24 hours. so that's good news. as for the highs, cooling down to 29 degrees in chicago.
so still in the warmer side, but much cooler than it was on wednesday. towards the east, very, very hot. 37 in washington, d.c. and the same goes for new york city. all right. finally, let's go over to europe. a low-pressure system is approaching the british isles, starting to produce lots of heavy rain. unfortunately, wet weather will likely continue into your saturday, and things will turn wet also across france and the low countries over the next 24 hours. it looks like central europe will continue to see stormy weather into your thursday. as for the high, heat is still building in the balkan peninsula, getting up to 35 in bucharest, and 35 degrees expected in athens. but out towards the west, looking quite mild. all right. here's your extended forecast.
party negotiated the coalition deal. antonis samaras reported to president carlos papoulias, then was sworn in as prime minister. new democracy won the most votes in parliamentary elections on sunday, but fell short of a majority. so samaras entered into talks with other party leaders. the socialist pasok party pushed for austerity measures in the previous government. the moderate democratic left party will also join the coalition. the deal is expected to calm the political uncertainty that has prevailed since last month. eu officials demanded budget cuts in return for billions of dollars in aid. but the parties in the coalition have also pledged to renegotiate the terms of the bailout. and that concludes this edition of "newsline." i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. we'll update the news at the top of the hour.